New polling shows Tim Kelly's lead growing in the Chattanooga mayoral race with less than three weeks to go until the April 13 runoff.
According to a poll of 330 likely voters conducted last week by Spry Strategies, a Knoxville-based polling outfit hired by local conservative group Hamilton Flourishing, Kelly holds a 13% edge over White.
In February, Kelly held a 12.7 percentage point lead over White, which means the gap between the two is growing as the pool of candidates has shrunk.
Of the 330 likely voters, 50.65% said they were planning to vote for Kelly, while 36% said they supported White. Another 13.4% remain undecided.
The 44 undecided voters surveyed also leaned Kelly, with 25 likely voters leaning his way and 19 leaning toward White.
Ryan Burrell, president of Spry Strategies, said Kelly is holding the significant edge for two reasons. First, Kelly has support from those who supported general election opponents who did not make it to the runoff, several of whom were Black leaders. Kelly also has strong support from white middle-aged men.
"The Kelly campaign has galvanized support from his opponents from the general election with 34.1% support from the Black community, compared to 13.1% for Kim White," Burrell said in an email. "Kelly has 22% of his support coming from Republicans to Kim White's 13%."
TN Chattanooga Mayoral Runoff Benchmark Survey conducted by Spry StrategiesView
Burrell said Kelly seems to be dominating middle-aged men, with nearly 68% of his support coming from men. In order for White to win, Burrell said her campaign needs to see high turnout from women voters, low turnout from Black voters and something to energize the Republican base.
The most recent numbers show a nearly identical pattern from three weeks prior to the general election. That was also around the same time Kelly criticized conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh on the occasion of his death, in a social media post he later took down.
"The Republicans united, but voters have short memories," Burrell said. "Kim White should not be afraid to let the voters know she is a fiscally conservative moderate Republican and believes in sustainable jobs with strong pay for all Chattanoogans, safer communities and strong family values."
Most of the people polled identified as either very or somewhat conservative (52%) while 26.6% identified as moderate and just over 20% identified as either very or somewhat liberal.
The 330 people who responded to the survey believed economic development, job growth, public safety and affordable housing were the most important issues facing the city. On the other end of the spectrum, roads, bridges and reducing the city's carbon footprint were seen as least important.
With the news of Planned Parenthood potentially opening a location in Chattanooga, a survey question asking if residents would oppose an abortion clinic showed 41% of people either strongly or somewhat supported the idea while about 46% either strongly or somewhat opposed it. The other 13% were undecided.
Contact Patrick Filbin at email@example.com or 423-757-6476. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickFilbin.